News, Voting

NC Super Tuesday overall turnout down from 2016, but it’s not all drab news

Overall voter participation on Super Tuesday was down this year compared to 2016, but it’s not all bad news. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

Voter turnout on Super Tuesday was down slightly from the 2016 presidential primary election, but Democratic turnout was up, according to preliminary statistics.

Overall, 31 percent of North Carolinians registered to vote cast a ballot yesterday compared to almost 36 percent in the 2016 primary election. The results were expected by pollsters and mimicked trends in other states, according to Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen.

“I think overall turnout was down a bit simply because the Presidential race is what drives voters to the polls, and since both sides had a competitive primary in 2016 but only the Democrats did this year, Republican turnout was down,” he said in an email Wednesday. “When the most competitive race on your side is Lieutenant Governor, it’s not a big turnout driver.”

He said it was probably a good sign for Democrats that their primary turnout was up from 1,322,433 votes cast for president yesterday compared to 1,142,916 in 2016.

“That has a lot to do with which ballot unaffiliated [voters] picked but it still shows a pretty healthy increase, and that’s a trend that’s been seen in other states as well,” Jensen added.

There are more registered unaffiliated voters in North Carolina this year (2,294,966) than registered Republicans (2,075,680). Democrats, though, still hold the top spot with 2,526,279 registered voters.

Warren County appeared to have the biggest voter turnout percentage-wise on Super Tuesday with nearly 57 percent of all registered voters there casting a ballot. The Board of Elections Director there, Debbie Formyduval, said county-wide turnout is always good, but the local school board and county commissioner races were big draws this time around.

“We have a very strong political county,” she said. “We really do have good turnout in my county.”

The number of registered voters was down in Warren County this year with 12,975, compared to 13,315 in 2016, but the overall turnout was up from 41 percent in 2016. The county has just shy of 21,000 residents, according to the 2010 Census, and 52 percent of the population is Black. There are also more registered Black voters there this year, 6,733, than there are white voters, 5,126.

Formyduval said the county had a lot of early voters, and that for the most part, Super Tuesday operations went really well. Her staff was prepared for the usual election scramble and were ready to direct voters to their proper voting precincts as they needed assistance.

It was the first county-wide race in which Warren County used a new express vote system with iVote touch screens. Formyduval said they tested the systems in the November municipal elections, so poll workers were prepared, but it was a new experience for many voters.

“We had no problems [with it],” she added, noting that there was good feedback from voters as well.

She said that the county has very accurate systems with updated addresses, and credited that in part for having such high turnout. She also gushed about Warren County voters in general.

“I’m just really proud of all my voters for showing up yesterday,” she added. “That really is key, and the one thing we have control over is our ability to vote.”

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